The Most Lucrative Hallmark Holidays

A Card for Every Occasion

We all know that Christmas is a boon for retailers – according to the National Retail Federation, American retailers brought in close to half a trillion dollars in winter holiday sales last year. But Christmas and Hanukkah aren’t the only holidays that are good news for greeting card companies and flower delivery services. Mother’s Day is Sunday, but it’s been an official holiday for less than a century; meanwhile, Father’s Day (celebrated in June) was only made official in 1972. They’ve been followed by a slew of other “holidays” like Administrative Professionals’ Day and Grandparents’ Day. Got a special nurse in your life? Make sure you get her a card for Nurse’s Day, which is Friday. Like candy? Celebrate “Sweetest Day” on Oct. 15 by giving candy and a greeting card to whomever you please. Buy two so that the next day you can get on your boss’s good side by giving him or her a little something on National Boss Day, Oct. 16. Photo Credit: Getty Images


Brought to You by Hallmark

If the proliferation of these made-up holidays seems a little silly to you, you’re not alone. The trend has given rise to the term “Hallmark Holiday,” a phrase rooted in the belief that such holidays exist only to sell greeting cards and flowers. (Hallmark, of course, denies that they’re in the business of making up holidays to generate sales, and it seems the company’s real strength has been getting people to send its cards to celebrate existing holidays.) The question, then, is to what extent these so-called Hallmark Holidays are really profit engines for Hallmark and other retailers. Sales data for the more obscure holidays is pretty scant – there aren’t many economists taking the time to find out how much money Americans are spending on National Boss Day. Still, groups like the NRF estimate retail sales for a few of the minor holidays that have gone mainstream, and Hallmark itself even estimates industry-wide greeting card sales for many of the same holidays. The following are the top five minor holidays, ranked by their estimated sales revenue for retailers in the most recent year available. Photo Credit: Nayu Kim


#5: St. Patrick’s Day

Retail Spending (2011): $4.14 billion Cards Sent: 8 million We certainly wouldn’t go so far as to call St. Paddy’s Day a “made-up” holiday – after all, this commemoration of Saint Patrick has been celebrated for centuries. But the tradition of sending greeting cards and spending gobs of money on green beer and other seasonal paraphernalia is far more recent. According to Hallmark, approximately 8 million St. Patrick’s Day cards are sent per year. Photo Credit: Gene Hunt


#4: Halloween

Retail Spending (2010): $5.8 billion Cards Sent: 20 million Another ancient tradition that has been warped and commercialized in modern times, Halloween generated nearly $6 billion in retail sales last year – most of it spent on costumes and candy, presumably. But a lot of people apparently send greeting cards for Halloween as well, with a solid 20 million changing hands last year. Photo Credit: rebelcan


#3: Father’s Day

Retail Spending (2010): $9.81 billion Cards Sent: 94 million Father’s Day has long played second fiddle to Mother’s Day, but that doesn’t mean that retailers don’t rake in the dough. According to the NRF, the average consumer spent almost $100 on Father’s Day gifts in 2010, with 40% saying they planned to take dad out for dinner. Father’s Day also accounted for approximately $1.3 billion spent on clothes. That’s a lot of ties. Photo Credit: Getty Images


#2: Valentine’s Day

Retail Spending (2011): $15.7 billion Cards Sent: 143 million (excluding classroom Valentines) V-Day spending bottomed out during the recession but recovered nicely in 2011, with the NRF estimating nearly $16 billion in sales. The most popular gift remains the tried-and-true greeting card, with 52% expecting to give one to their significant other according to the NRF. Indeed, Hallmark’s own metrics show that Valentine’s Day trails only Christmas when it comes to greeting cards. Still, in most households a simple greeting card won’t cut it, which is why Americans spent a whopping $3.5 billion on jewelry this past Valentine’s Day. Photo Credit: Getty Images


#1: Mother’s Day

Retail Spending (2011): $16.3 billion Cards Sent: 139 million Most people plan to open their wallets to show Mom some love on Sunday. Americans spent $14.6 billion on gifts for moms last year, but that number is set to rise; the NRF predicts that consumer spending on gifts will increase to $16.3 billion this year – that’s $140 per person, and a return to pre-recession levels. If those numbers pan out, it will edge out V-Day for the top spot, proving that mom is still the most important woman in most of our lives. In a sign of changing times, the percentage of Americans planning to buy an electronic device for mom is expected to rise 48% over last year. But that doesn’t mean most moms are getting a Kindle: At the end of the day, clothes, dinner, jewelry and flowers still rule the day. Photo Credit: Getty Images


Other Obscure Holidays

Even if you don’t buy gifts or send cards for St. Patrick’s Day and Grandparents’ Day, you’re probably aware they exist. But did you know that June 24 is Take Your Dog to Work Day and that Jan. 31 was Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day? Find out more about these and other obscure ‘holidays’ in MainStreet’s breakdown of 10 holidays you’ve never heard of. Photo Credit: Sarah Forst


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